Tournament Rules

36th Annual Florida Blue Key Speech & Debate Tournament

Tournament Rules Packet

This packet contains the official rules governing the Florida Blue Key Speech & Debate Tournament at the University of Florida. The tournament uses the National Speech & Debate Association rules. Issues that are unclear, inadequately addressed, or not covered in this packet, will be left up to the sole discretion of the tournament chairperson.

PLEASE NOTE: Many questions that we receive in our office are spelled out in the tournament rules or on the website. Please read the entire invitation, as we have changed many things this year from previous years. 


Competitors must be high school students in grades 9-12 and in good standing. With permission from the Tournament Chairman, Middle School students may be permitted to attend. All entries in Duo Interpretation and Public Forum must consist of two students who attend the same school.. Independent or unaffiliated entries will be accepted, so long as there is no objection from their school.

Debate Events

Event   TOC Bid Level

Public Forum Debate (PF)Octafinals Round

Lincoln Douglas Debate (LD) Quarterfinals Round 

Congressional Debate (SC)Semifinals Round

Speech Events

Pattern A

Dramatic Interpretation (DI)

Duo Interpretation (Duo)

Extemp (MX)

Informative Speaking (INFO)

Oral Interpretation (OI)

Pattern B

Humorous Interpretation (HI)

Impromptu Speaking (IMP)

Original Oratory (OO)

Program of Oral Interpretation (POI)

Students may register for a maximum of three individual events or one debate event. Double entries may select individual events from one or both patterns. Triple entires may select two individual events from one pattern and one individual event from the other, but cannot select all three events in the same pattern. Triple entries cannot select both individual and debate events. If a student chooses to triple enter the tournament will not make special accommodations for that student in the event that they miss a round.


We will consider an increase in the event entry limits of any school on a first come first serve basis. Please e-mail our registration director with any limit increase requests, 


Speech Events 1:5

Congressional Debate1:5

Public Forum Debate1:2

Lincoln Douglas Debate1:2


Event Entry Fees

Varsity LD- $65

Speech Events- $55

Congress- $55

PF- $100

Novice LD- $50

Novice PF- $90

Event Entry Fees

School Registration Fee $60

Hired Judge for Speech Events $200

Hired Judge Debate Events (LD, PF, SC) $200

Drop Fees and Penalties 

Drops (10/20-10/27)$50

Drops at Registration$75

Hidden Drops$125


Schools are expected to provide qualified, trained, and experienced judges. A school may face a judge fee should the qualifications or training of their provided judges come into question. This policy applies to all registered schools, including those with Gator Guard coaches. Judges must be available for all preliminary rounds, as well as the first full break round in each event. Judge obligations extend to one round after all of a school’s students have dropped out of the competition. A limited number of hired judges will be available on a first-come first-serve basis, with priority given to out of state schools.

We will be asking for judge cell phone numbers on registration, please collect them ahead of time. Schools whose judges fail to appear for an assigned round will be fined $25 for prelim rounds or $50 for an elim round. We don’t want to fine you, we want your judges to show up. However, schools with unpaid fines will not be given ballots or awards, and will be withheld until fines are paid.


Any hidden drops found during the tournament will result in a $125 penalty and possible withdrawal / disqualification of all entrants from the school. Any hidden drop fees must be paid by the delinquent school prior to the following scheduled round or contestants from the school will not be scheduled for the next round.


Preliminary registration will be conducted online through Tabroom. Registration will open August 30, 2019 and close on October 10th, 2019 at 5 P.M. The last date for drops without incurring a fee is October 10th, 2019. Absolutely no changes will be accepted after that date without penalty.

This year we will offer an e-registration option through Tabroom. Schools who choose to participate should mail in their registration fees by check to the Florida Blue Key office along with a note confirming that they want to register their teams by e-registration. In order to register your team using this method we must receive your registration payment by October 18th, 2019.

Please mail checks to:

Florida Blue Key 3160 J. Wayne Reitz Union

P.O. Box 118505

Gainesville, FL 32611-8505.

If you are unable to participate in e-registration we will have an in-person registration on Friday October 26th, 2018. Details about this location will be released as the deadline approaches. If you have any further questions about the e-registration policy please email

Source Integrity 

All students must bring copies of all sources, which must include the full context of the citation, not simply a retyped list of short sentences and quotes.  

Debaters must make said sources available to either their opponent(s) in the round, and/or their judges after the round upon request.   Debate entries failing to do so, or debaters who significantly misrepresent sources in the round may be disqualified at the discretion of Tab. 

Speech contestants should have the full original source of all material in interpretive events available at the tournament, in addition to their cutting.  Oratory and Extemp students should have the text of any material they cite in their speeches available at the tournament.  Students misrepresenting sources or using sources not available may be disqualified at the discretion of Tab.

All rules are subject to change.  The tournament will make you aware of any changes at registration.


A preliminary schedule will be posted on our website,, within two weeks of the tournament. The tournament runs from November 1-3, 2019

The awards assembly is scheduled for Sunday at 4:00pm, and will be held in the Reitz Union Grand Ballroom. We will certainly do our best to hold the awards assembly earlier if we are running ahead of schedule or if the schedule otherwise permits, but no earlier than 3:00pm.

If a school is unwilling or “unable” to stay for the awards ceremony, they will be responsible for any costs involved with mailing ballots, trophies, or any other materials left behind. Nothing will be mailed from our office during the week immediately following the tournament.


There will be a strictly enforced fifteen-minute forfeiture rule following the release of pairings in each event. If a judge fails to show up to a round or one of the participants does not show up, one of the student(s) in the scheduled round must immediately notify the tab room. If competitors fail to notify the tab room that their judge or opponent is missing, after waiting fifteen minutes, they will forfeit the round. The tournament chairman may, at his discretion, allow the students to hold the round, if doing so will not cause the tournament to run behind schedule.


There will be a maximum of five randomly paired preliminary rounds of all speech events. If five preliminary rounds are scheduled, a competitor’s lowest round will be dropped. Ties will be broken based on speaker points then reciprocals.

Quarterfinal Bracket 

Room 1: 1, 8, 9, 16, 17, 24

Room 2: 2, 7, 10, 15, 18, 23

Room 3: 3, 6, 11, 14, 19, 22

Room 4: 4, 5, 12, 13, 20, 21

Semifinal Bracket

1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 11

We may hold additional break rounds in any speech event if the schedule and number of entries permits. Speech event scores will be cleared after the preliminary rounds and each break round will be calculated individually.


Rounds during the tournament will be paired in the following manner using the National Speech & Debate Association’s rules as preliminary guidelines.

Round 1: Random pairings

Round 2: Random pairings

Round 3: Straight Power Pairing

Round 4: High/Low within brackets and side constraints

Round 5: Straight Power Pairing

Round 6: High/Low within brackets and side constraints

Round 7: Double Octofinals

Round 8: Octofinals

Round 9: Quarterfinals

Round 10: Semifinals

Round 11: Finals

The round to which a debate event breaks will ultimately be determined based on the final number of entries.

Students without a winning record will not be eligible to advance in Varsity Lincoln Douglas debate, Public Forum, or Policy Debate; this rule will be extended to the Novice divisions, at the discretion of the directors.


Lincoln Douglas is split into divisions of Varsity and Novice. The novice division is for students in their first year of debate experience or middle school students and must have 25 or less total NSDA points at the beginning of the school year (regardless of the event):

The speaking times for LD will be as follows:

Six (6) minute affirmative constructive

Three (3) minute negative cross-examination

Seven (7) minute negative constructive

Three (3) minute affirmative cross-examination

Four (4) minute first affirmative rebuttal

Six (6) minute negative rebuttal

Three (3) minute second affirmative rebuttal

Four (4) minutes of prep time will be allocated for each debater

Disclosing after LD rounds is highly encouraged throughout the tournament, but is only permitted after judges have turned in their ballot either to a runner or to tab. Please be cautious of overly lengthy critiques. We do not want critiques to impede the tournament schedule.

Ties in Lincoln Douglas Debate will be broken by 1) win/loss record, 2) speaker points, 3) high/low points, 4) opponent record 5) judge variance 6) double hi/low.

Oral disclosures and critiques are permitted.

LD Judge Preferences

Schools must have their judges post paradigms on the NDCA wiki two weeks prior to the tournament in order to participate in order to have preferences honored for their debaters. If schools have not posted their judge paradigms, they will be fined $25 per missing judge paradigm as well as their schools judge preferences will not be honored. Each school is entitled to one judge strike, which the tournament, to the best of its ability, will maintain.


Public Forum is split into divisions of Varsity and Novice. The novice division is ONLY for debaters in their first year of debate competition or middle school students, and must have 25 or less total NSDA points at the beginning of the school year (regardless of the event).

The times for rounds will be as follows:

First Speaker Team A 4 Minutes

First Speaker Team B 4 Minutes

Crossfire 3 Minutes

Second Speaker Team A 4 Minutes

Second Speaker Team B 4 Minutes

Crossfire 3 Minutes

Summary First Speaker Team A 3 Minutes

Summary First Speaker Team B 3 Minutes

Grand Crossfire 3 Minutes

Final Focus Second Speaker Team A 2 Minutes

Final Focus Second Speaker Team B 2 Minutes

Prep Time 3 Minutes per team

Prior to the round in the presence of the judge(s), a coin is tossed by one team and called by the other team. The team that wins the flip may choose one of two options: EITHER the SIDE of the topic they wish to defend (pro or con) OR the SPEAKING POSITION they wish to have (begin the debate or end the debate). Once the coin toss winners select their favored option, the other team makes a choice within the remaining option. Once speaking positions and sides have been determined, the debate can begin.

Disclosing after PF rounds is highly encouraged throughout the tournament, but is only permitted after judges have turned in their ballot either to a runner or to tab. Please be cautious of overly lengthy critiques. We do not want critiques to impede the tournament schedule.

PF Judge Strikes will be permitted.


The 2016 Congressional Debate will feature three sessions of preliminary debate. Students who advance from prelims will compete in two sessions of semi-final debate with the top competitors advancing to the Super Congress session on Sunday morning. The Super Congress session will feature a scenario. Nominations for presiding officer will be taken off the floor of the chambers during all rounds of debate. Chamber assignments and agendas for each house will be posted on the web site,, soon after the close of registration. Semifinal and Super Congress agendas will be announced during the tournament. Please e-mail all Congress legislation to

Speech times for Congressional Debate will follow NSDA regulations. This includes 3 minutes of speaking time followed by 1 minute of cross-examination. For speeches introducing legislation and the first negative speech following, 3 minutes of speaking and 2 minutes of cross-examination.

Extemporaneous Speaking

  1. Topics: The tournament director will procure topics phrased for contest use and based on subjects discussed in standard periodicals during the current school year. Each topic must be in the form of a question. The contents of the list shall not be disclosed except as contestants draw topics. There shall be a new subject area for each round, and no duplication of topics between the divisions.
  1. Drawing: Thirty minutes before the contest is to begin, the first speaker draws three questions, choose one, and return the other two. The other contestants draw in like manner, in the order of speaking, at intervals of seven minutes.
  2. Preparation: As soon as a question is chosen, the contestant will prepare a speech without consultation and without references to prepared notes. Students may consult published books, magazines, newspapers and journals or articles, provided:
  3. They are originals or copies of whole pages.
  4. Provided those originals or copies are uncut.
  5. There is no written material on that original or copy other than citation information.
  6. Topical index without annotation may be present.
  7. Laptops will be allowing in Extemp Prep so long as they are not connected to the Internet.

Dramatic, Humorous, and Duo Interpretation

  1. Separate contests will be conducted in Dramatic, Humorous, and Duo Interpretation, each presented as memorized selections and without the use of physical objects or costume. Presentation must not exceed 10 minutes.
  2. Length: The time limit in Interpretation Main Events (Humorous, Dramatic, and Duo Interpretation is 10 minutes with a 30 second grace period. If the judges in the round agree that the student has gone beyond the grace period the student may not be ranked 1st, but need not be ranked last based on time. The ranking is up to each individual judge’s discretion. Judges who choose to time are to use accurate timing devices. No minimum time is mandated.
  3. “Selections”- Selections used in these contests must be cuttings from published, printed novels, short stories, plays, or poetry. The selected piece must reflect the nature of the event in which the competitor is participating. Recorded material or material from the Internet that is not published and printed is prohibited. During the presentation the contestant/team must name the author and the book or magazine from which the cutting was made.

Oral Interpretation

  1. Students should prepare two programs of literature (poetry and prose- each of which has a common theme ore emotion), which are presented in alternating rounds of competition. Adaptions should be for the purpose of continuity only, and lines attributed to one character may not be contributed to another. Original material is not allowed.
  1. An introduction, which includes titles, authors, tone and theme is required, and along with any necessary transitions, is to be presented without the use of notes. The introduction must be the original work of the speaker. The presentation may begin with a read portion of the selected material prior to the presenter’s personal introduction.
  1. The participant must use a manuscript. The material is to be interpreted, however, the participant will not be penalized whether or not the selected is memorized.
  1. The participant may not walk except during the introductions and transitions.
  1. Length: The time limit is 10 minutes with a 30 second grace period. If the judges in the round agree that the student has gone beyond the grace period the student may not be ranked 1st, but need not be ranked last based on time. The ranking is up to each individual judge’s discretion. Judges who choose to time are to use accurate timing devices. No minimum time is mandated.

Original Oratory

  1. This contest comprises only memorized orations actually composed by the contestants. No visual aids are permitted.
  2. Length: The time limit in Original Oratory is 10 minutes with a 30 second grace period. If the judges in the round agree that the student has gone beyond the grace period, the student may not be ranked 1st, but need not be ranked last based on time. No minimum time is mandated


Protests may only be filed in cases of an extreme grievance. All protests must be submitted directly to the Florida Blue Key Speech & Debate Tournament Chairman, in writing, immediately upon the occurrence of an incident. Protests will NOT be accepted after the final preliminary round. Rulings will be made by the tournament chair, and all decisions will be final. The tournament staff reserves the authority to disqualify competitors for not conforming to our interpretation of the tournament rules, or if it is found that they have destroyed or damaged any University of Florida property. Any grievance sent to our office after the conclusion of the tournament will not be given consideration or be addressed.


To the extent permitted by law, each school registered to attend the Florida Blue Key Speech & Debate Tournament agrees to protect, indemnify, defend and hold harmless the University of Florida, Florida Blue Key, Florida Blue Key Speakers Bureau, the Florida Blue Key Speech & Debate Tournament, and their representatives, provided that with respect to officers, directors, advisors, employees, and agents, such individuals are acting within the scope of their employment or agency as applicable, against all claims, losses, or damages to persons or property, governmental charges or fines, and costs (including reasonable attorney’s fees or event entry fees), arising out of or connected with the event, except those claims arising out of intentional misconduct.

Florida Blue Key and the Florida Blue Key Speakers Bureau reserve the ability to limit or deny the privilege of attendance and competition at the Blue Key Speech & Debate Tournament to any individual whose presence makes tournament staff, directors, or coordinators feel threatened or intimidated in any way. The decision to deny entry is the sole discretion of the executive board, and will only be evoked in extreme cases which threaten the well being of tournament personnel; schools who register for the tournament, in so doing, express their intention to respect and abide by this policy. Any school found to be in violation of this agreement will have all entries immediately dropped from the tournament with extreme prejudice, and will not be invited to attend the tournament the following year.


Sweepstakes points will be distributed cumulatively according to the following:

—– Double Octos Octos Quarters Semis 2nd 1st
Lincoln Douglas 8 12 20 25 30 35
Public Forum 8 12 20 25 30 35
—– Quarters Semis 6th 5th 4th 3rd 2nd 1st
Individual Events 3 6 8 10 14 16 20 25
Congressional Debate 3 6 8 10 14 16 20 25



Please pick up all awards during closing ceremonies, or arrange to have someone else do on your behalf. We will not mail trophies.

We will not release ballots early, regardless of circumstances. Ballots will be available to pick-up on the way out of closing ceremonies, in the area in which they are held. If you know ahead of time you are going to be leaving early, please bring a self-addressed, stamped envelope of sufficient size for your team and postage to mail it and deliver it at registration. We will not be mailing out ballots for a week after the tournament, so please keep this timeframe in mind when making this decision.

All rules are subject to change.  The tournament will make you aware of any changes at registration.